‘We can’t afford to pay it’: Farmers warn of grocery price rises if unions win horticultural wage hike

Updated June 21, 2018 15:55:04

Photo: Farm workers are not currently paid for overtime. (ABC News: Marty McCarthy)

Australian fruit and vegetable farmers fear a bid by union groups to negotiate higher pay conditions for casual workers could force them out of business.

The Fair Work Commission, unions and farm lobby group are currently in negotiations that will eventually see casual fruit and vegetable farm workers awarded overtime.

Farmers say they won’t be able to afford it and will have to leave crops in the field to rot unless supermarkets increase grocery prices.

They are also worried unions are moving to organise the largely un-unionised horticulture industry, to offset Australia’s shrinking manufacturing sector.

“I’m really dumbfounded. I’m wondering what we’ve done wrong, or have we upset the gods” Leo Skliros, a mango farmer in the Northern Territory, said.

“I keep checking for a note on my back saying, ‘kick me’, because I feel like we’re constantly under attack.

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